AC: By 1997, Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle were convinced many key innovations in global development weren’t getting the attention they deserved. Believing there had to be a better way to provide aid, they started an experiment. In February 2000, they invited any social entrepreneur to pitch his or her earth-changing idea at the World Bank. The 300+ participants ranged from a group of NASA scientists to a woman who’d never before left her Ugandan village.
New peace deal in South Sudan greeted with optimism
Current South Sudan President Salva Kiir met with former rebel leader and Vice President Riek Machar to sign a peace agreement late last year. The rivalry between the two had previously fueled the civil war in South Sudan, making it surprising to see the two smiling and shaking hands in the capital city of Juba.
The new agreement, named the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, follows years of multiple peace agreements that have ultimately failed. The agreement is met with both skepticism and hopefulness. Alongside Kiir and Machar, former detainees and other political party leaders have agreed to sign the document. Together with lasting peace, the agreement aims to implement free and fair elections that are open to all parties, and pave the way for economic integration between the North and South parts of former Sudan.
This comprehensive peace agreement focuses on five areas that will hopefully form a lasting peace agreement. These include a permanent ceasefire, rehabilitation to the oil industry and oil wells, security reform, improvement of infrastructure and the livelihood of citizens, and implementation of outside forces to oversee the ceasefire. Both major political leaders claim to be committed to the cause and respect the documents and what follows.
The first expected hurdle will be the permanent ceasefire. The previous treaty, the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, was violated by both sides within 24 hours. In response, the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement hopes to forge one national army under one national representation. Previously, there had been two armies, making them more likely to clash. In order to have a successful ceasefire, both African Union (AU) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states are asked to deploy the necessary forces to make sure this ceasefire is everlasting.
Following almost five years of war that displaced nearly a quarter million citizens and killed thousands, there is also hope that this deal will be the lasting peace South Sudan has been looking for. Machar said the agreement will end the suffering all too common in South Sudan, adding that “they will be happy soon.”
With the optimism that this agreement will bring the peace that South Sudan needs, Water for South Sudan will be able to reach out to previously unsafe communities. Furthermore, this pact aims at opening up the doors of Sudan to humanitarian aid in order to improve the lives of its citizens. Water for South Sudan will be able to get supplies needed and personnel to South Sudan in a more efficient manner, and ultimately reach out to more populations that need access to clean, safe water and hygiene education.
WFSS looks forward to serving many more people this year, thanks to our supporters around the world. WFSS teams plan to drill 40 new wells, rehabilitate up to 50 older wells, and provide hygiene education in all villages they visit, impacting over 50,000 people in remote villages. Read on for more details on the 2018-19 season.
Our Country Directors usually aim for an early start to give themselves enough time should there be any delays. The rehab team got an extra early start, beginning in early October. As of December 11, they have rehabbed 24 older wells and also provided hygiene education in those villages, serving close to 20,000 people.
We had planned to start drilling in December, but a slowdown at the border has pushed that start to January. One of the many challenges our teams face is crossing the border into South Sudan. WFSS purchases most of our drilling supplies in Kampala, Uganda, and sends them to South Sudan by truck. Customs paperwork is often time-consuming, and this year presented extra challenges. The trucks have cleared the border as of December 12 and are on the way to the WFSS operations center in Wau. After unloading the supplies our team will take a short Christmas holiday break, and then be ready to go in early January.
New Drilling Rigs
Our two new drilling rigs are each on the way, with expected arrivals at our operations center in December and January. The larger 501 PAT rig (pictured at right) is currently on an ocean-going vessel, due to arrive at the port in Mombasa, Kenya, later this month.
In order to maximize resources, the rehab team will start 2019 with the drilling team. The drilling team will drill new wells and install all hardware, pipes and pumps, and then move on to the next village. The rehab team will then serve as a platform team to finish the wells, installing concrete platforms and drainage channels. This will speed up the new well process to ensure that we can drill as many wells as possible.
The rehab team will then go back to rehabilitating wells in early spring to finish out their season and reach their goals.
Security Reports from South Sudan
We are in constant contact with our team, who continually monitor safety and security. Our team reports that the area around our operations center, and the areas in which we plan to drill and rehabilitate wells, have been stable and safe.
Our team also reports that more IDPs (internally displaced persons) are returning home from refugee camps. As we start our 15th season, WFSS is well aware of safety and security issues. Our team is in full contact with government and security forces in South Sudan and works diligently to maintain the safety of our teams and equipment.
WFSS remains cautiously optimistic that the recent peace deal, signed in September, 2018, will hold and the country will become more stable, and much-needed development can continue.
Thanks to supporters in all 50 states and 51 other countries, WFSS has now drilled 350 new wells, rehabilitated 83 older wells and provided hygiene education to 252 villages, impacting over 300,000 people. We look forward to continuing to water the seeds of change in South Sudan. Thanks for your support!
Life changes everywhere we drill, including at the WFSS compound. When the current compound was constructed, WFSS drilled a well for compound use, and invited nearby villagers to use it. A village has sprung up around our compound, drawn, in part, by access to fresh water.
I watched young girls come to fill up their cans, sometimes going airborne as they worked the hand pump. The well is a short distance from their huts, and their mothers know they can send them to a safe place to get water.
As we drove through Wau, Salva pointed out several WFSS wells in use. We hopped out at two wells to meet the people using the wells, and to discover who had sponsored them. I was delighted to stop at the first well and discover it was sponsored by a donor from Rochester, NY to whom I had recently spoken.
We then stopped at another well and began to brush away the debris to see whose name was on the well. Letters began to appear – L – Y –N –N…. I began to jump up and down as I yelled, “This is my well!!!”
The team had a few “extra” wells in 2013 with no additional sponsor names, so they dedicated them to two board members, and me. I had not thought about this well again until we came upon it. It was an absolute joy to see my name in the cement, and to meet the women who use the well. The interconnection of life, water, and WFSS came full circle for me.
People around the world support our work. Salva came half-way across the world to start his new life in America, and has gone back, to help his people. And now I too got to go half-way around the world, to see the life-saving impact of clean water.
Leaving the WFSS compound in Wau, and its relative comforts, we embarked on a journey to witness the work that our founder Salva Dut started 15 years ago, work that inspires our supporters across the US and around the world.
After a four and a half-hour ride on uneven, rough and rutted roads, never traveling more than 40 mph, we arrived at our campsite in Aweil State. The drilling team had chosen a site under a large tree, not far from a new WFSS well so that the cooks would have access to fresh water as the drilling and hygiene teams were working.
There were long lines of jerry cans at the newly installed well, and we met women whose lives have been changed by closer access to fresh water. There were many smiles among those waiting to fill their cans. One woman shared, “We used to go to another well, far away. It used to be hard to cook and wash. Now, with a well, it is easy—we just bring a can and fill it up. It’s so great. With dirt it is hard to take a bath. Now the children are so clean. The well is helping them so much.”
We were thrilled to travel the short distance from our campsite to the drilling site. We watched as villagers young and old gathered around to observe the transformation of their village. We watched the noisy work of our drilling rig and compressor as the teams installed pipes and blew out the dirt and dirty water that is the by-product of drilling.
Field work is hard and dirty work. The heat was often overwhelming for us. But no one complains. Villagers gathered each day to watch. We continued with our administrative “meetings under the trees” as the well was constructed, trying to make the most of our time.
I had an extra interest in this well as I was personally involved in the fundraising that sponsored it. My University of Notre Dame class raised enough money to have our name inscribed on the well. My heart was full to overflowing as I watched the WFSS complete their work, and then was able to stand with the villagers beside their new well. I was overjoyed to stand in the photos with our banner, and the villagers who will use the well.
The deputy village chief, Tong Yel, was also overjoyed. He told us over and over that we would be blessed for bringing this well. “We appreciate those who helped us get clean water. Our children will have a better life. I wish generations to come would see you. The community would not have enough to purchase a well. We wish they had more to show their appreciation. God be with you and bless you.”
Leaving the field, we knew that lives would be changed, and we were changed as well, but the need continues. There are still many villages waiting for wells. Our team works with local leaders to determine well placement, but we cannot provide a well to every village. Our team must often share the hard news that we cannot provide a well this season. But this season we know that 49 villages did receive new wells, as WFSS helped to water the seeds of change in South Sudan. Being there to witness the watering was nothing short of spectacular.
The following is the second in a series of blog posts, entitled "Notes from South Sudan", by Lynn Malooly (left), Executive Director of Water for South Sudan. She and several other WFSS team members traveled to South Sudan in March 2018. Look for more stories from her in the coming months.
After a few days in the capital city of Juba we flew to Wau, the second largest city in South Sudan, and our travels took us deeper into the country. With a population of about 150,000, Wau was unlike any city I had ever seen. Many residents live in simple mud and grass huts. The main roads are dirt and as we drove we navigated around pot holes, cows, goats, and people. People walk everywhere, and a lucky few get around by bicycle. Our local team met us at the airport and faces came alive as I met, in person for the first time, some of our local managers. We were also met with the heat. Salva reminded us over and over to wear our hats and stay hydrated. He told us that we needed to sweat—it was our bodies’ way to keep cool, and stave off heatstroke. And so we sweated… all the time. Water bottles became our constant companions.
We came home to the WFSS compound in Wau, the heart of our work in South Sudan and were delighted to meet more of our team. The compound was a busy scene, filled with vehicles, equipment and team members, including the compound dog, Blessing. We sat down to the first of many home-cooked meals, all served outside.
We were impressed with the hard work of the entire WFSS team, but especially our cooks. The women toil every day, making breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of our team members. A small shack serves as their kitchen where they prepare meals, which they then cook outside over charcoal and wood fires on the ground. When we expressed our admiration, Salva told us that when there is a job opening, often 100 women will line up outside our compound. WFSS is a very desirable job opportunity, especially for women. Those of us who have the luxury of cooking in the US urged our team to move the construction of a simple new kitchen to a high priority item.
While there, US Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok assisted the team as they brought our first drilling rig back online. This small rig can now be used as back-up, for local drilling, and as a training rig for team members ready to learn and grow. We witnessed the administrative work of our team, working in small offices, with just ceiling fans to move the hot air around. We also experienced the internet in South Sudan—a miracle that it’s there, and certainly not the lightning speed we were used to back home.
We spent four days in the compound, including numerous meetings under the shade of trees in the 100+ degree heat, reviewing operations and job descriptions, and planning for the future.
Next up, we would travel into the field, to witness the work of WFSS.
The following is a first in a series of blog posts, entitled "Notes from South Sudan", by Lynn Malooly (left), Executive Director of Water for South Sudan. She and several other WFSS team members traveled to South Sudan in March 2018. Look for more stories from her in the coming months.
I have had the honor of working at Water for South Sudan for the past eight years. In that time, I handled hundreds of photos from our work and always loved seeing photos of wells, and those who use them. I saw photos of people, village and landscapes, and our team drilling and repairing wells. But all that I saw was two-dimensional.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I have seen hundreds of pictures of our work in South Sudan and have been so moved by the dramatic images. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then seeing South Sudan in person is nothing short of life-changing.
When I traveled to South Sudan this past March our work, and people, became fully three-dimensional for me. I was able to experience the sights, sounds, smells and sun-soaked heat of South Sudan. Our mission came alive for me.
Our trip began with a three-hour drive from Rochester to Toronto before our 12 ½ hour flight to Addis Ababa. Our traveling crew included WFSS Board President Glenn M. Balch, Jr., Board member Anne Turner, and Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok. Once in Addis Ababa we had time for an Ethiopian coffee in the airport before another short flight to Juba, the capital of South Sudan. We walked off the plane and were met a short distance away by WFSS Founder Salva Dut. We were interviewed by a local TV station and we shared our excitement about being in South Sudan. We talked about our work and outline for our visit, including plans to see a well being drilled.
In Juba, we attended a meeting of the Rotary Club of Munuki, held in an open air hut, and heard about their work – offering scholarships, assisting with Hepatitis B vaccinations, and planting trees. They are also looking at a borehole project near Juba. Glenn, a life-long Rotarian and past District Governor, shared his enthusiasm and support for their projects.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I have seen hundreds of pictures of our work in South Sudan and have been so moved by the dramatic images. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then seeing South Sudan in person is nothing short of life-changing.
We had the happy occasion to celebrate World Water Day in Juba on March 22. Our day started at the Tulip Inn in Juba, where we met local university students, all sporting their new WFSS t-shirts. They told us of their studies, including computer science and agriculture studies, and future plans. Their dedication and enthusiasm inspired us and was very encouraging for the future of South Sudan.
The celebration for World Water Day, and National Nile Day, took place at the Nyakuron Cultural Center. Local government officials and ministers spoke on the importance of water, and several elementary school students also spoke. The students asked a few water-themed riddles, including: “I come from the family of water, but if I go back to water I die. Who am I?” This one completely stumped the audience (see answer below).
Glenn and I were invited to say a few words on our work and thanked everyone for their attention to the issue of access to clean water. We were invited to be in many photos to mark the day.
The Juba portion of our trip was eye-opening and energizing. We would soon leave the comforts of our hotel and travel deeper into the country, to meet our team and see the work we do.
Answer to riddle: Ice!
The 2018 season continues and our team reports that they have now drilled 16 wells. The first well was drilled at the Zagalona Primary School near Wau. The other 15 wells have been drilled in the Aweil area.
The WFSS Hygiene Education team has conducted hygiene education in all of the villages where they installed wells in Aweil. The Zagalona School is also the site of our pilot sanitation project, installing six latrines in the school. A full hygiene and sanitation training will be conducted when that project is complete.
The team reports that they are on track to drill at least 40 wells this season and look forward to supplying more people with access to fresh water. The rehab team is currently traveling with the drilling team, completing the platforms on the new wells, to help reach the goal of 40 wells this season. The rehab team will split off later this season to work on repairing older WFSS wells.
WFSS is pleased to be celebrating our 15th year since our founding! Read more on our Celebrating 15 Years Blog.
The WFSS season began in December, and teams are now in Aweil drilling new wells and providing hygiene education. Our teams are safe and able to continue our work, helping to transform lives in South Sudan.
As of January 30, 12 new wells have been drilled, and we have also broken ground on our pilot sanitation project, building latrines in a school. Read more about this season's progress here.
WFSS Remains Committed to Serving the People of South Sudan
Having just marked the USA’s 241st birthday, Water for South Sudan (WFSS) joins the South Sudanese people in celebrating the sixth anniversary of the world’s newest nation’s hard-won independence. Yet, the South Sudanese are still suffering from decades of civil war. There are tremendous challenges in this young country, but also many opportunities.
Founded in 2005, WFSS’ mission is to empower the people of South Sudan to transform their lives through providing access to fresh water and hygiene education. Funded by donors in all 50 states and 33 other countries, WFSS waters the seeds of change in South Sudan by helping remote rural villages grow and develop in a country that lacks necessary infrastructure like roads, plumbing, and electricity.
Reliable access to safe water is usually the first step in development. A constant source of clean, safe water means villagers no longer need to migrate for half of each year in search of water. The stability that comes with access to water allows villages to plan for the future. Markets, schools, and clinics can be established. The lives of all, particularly those of women, girls and infants, are transformed by access to fresh water and hygiene education.
When WFSS drills a new well villagers are involved in every step of the process: from determining the well’s placement to assisting our teams with village labor as needed. WFSS also requires villages receiving a well to create water committees that will help them manage their new resource. Water committees oversee the wells as a shared community resource.
With more than 300 wells drilled to date, and over 1,000 villagers educated on how to train others about safe hygiene, the impact of our work is visible and growing. Access to water means that villagers can stay in one place more permanently, and helps prevent conflict or competition around sources of ground water.
WFSS is not only empowering people but also developing South Sudanese talent and capabilities. Our leadership in South Sudan has expanded, thanks to our founder, former “Lost Boy” Salva Dut. Ater Akol Thiep and Ajang Agok lead the operations teams based at our Operations Center in Wau in South Sudan’s northwest region. We work with our leadership team there to help them build their management and technical skills. Our intern program in South Sudan enables us to identify and develop the skilled people we need to implement our expanding programs.
WFSS is also working to establish examples of positive cross-tribal collaboration with Omaha, Nebraska-based Aqua-Africa (A-A). In partnership, WFSS and A-A began the United Peace and Development Project (UPDP), which has provided 14 water wells to date, along with community-building discussions and training. Equally important, the UPDP showcases cross-tribal leadership and co-operation, demonstrating that collaboration between tribes is possible.
We join all who work for peace and development in South Sudan. We’re grateful to our world-wide supporters who enable WFSS to remain committed to the people of this young country through our locally-led, grassroots development work.
Water for South Sudan is so grateful to our many supporters, across the US, and around the world, who enable our life-saving work in South Sudan. We are especially thankful to those groups who commit to helping us year after year, and find a special connection to us through their work.
Once special group of super supporters is our friends in the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State (FGCNYS).
The Garden Clubs have raised over $144,000 for WFSS since 2010. They have sponsored seven new wells, and this year they also sponsored the rehabilitation of an older well.
Salva and WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly were able to meet some of our Garden Club members in New York City in March while Salva was in town for World Water Day events.
Lucille Bauer, State Chair for World Gardening, FGCNYS First Vice President was thrilled to meet Salva, and brought along Lyn Pezold, state recording secretary, District Director Graceann Morawek and fellow Castle Manor member Karen Maskuli.
"We're proud to sponsor Water for South Sudan as our World Gardening Project," said Lucille. "It was a pleasure to to meet Salva in New York. We are thrilled that we collected over $25,000 in 2016 for WFSS."
The Garden Clubs have consistently raised over $15,000 a year since 2010, and have been sponsoring wells since 2011.
"We are so grateful to our gardening club friends for choosing Water for South Sudan for their World Gardening Project," said WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly. "Their support, for so many years, has transformed thousands of lives in South Sudan."
FGCNYS's first well sponsorship came in 2011. This past year they had their highest fundraising totals ever, and donated to WFSS. These funds will sponsor another new well next drilling season. In addition, they were able to sponsor the rehabilitation of an older well this season.
This new pilot project, spurred by our 2015 well evaluation study, led to the creation of our well rehab team in 2017. To date this year the new rehab team has repaired the cement platforms of 26 of our oldest wells.
"Thanks to the support of FGCNYS, this repaired well will continue to produce clean water for years to come," said Malooly.
The Federated Garden Clubs of New York is a member of National Garden Clubs, Inc., the largest gardening organization in the world. The Federated Garden Clubs of New York State, Inc., was founded in 1924 and incorporated in 1930 for the purpose of supporting the Garden Clubs of New York State. The FGCNYS presently includes more than 250 garden clubs with 8105 members across the state.
Water for South Sudan reached a significant milestone last week with the drilling of our 300th well. Starting with our first well, drilled in Founder Salva Dut's village in 2005, we have not stopped in our mission to bring access to clean water in South Sudan. Despite continuing challenges in South Sudan, our work continues, and we continue to transform lives.
Water for South Sudan's 2017 season is winding down as the end of the dry season approaches in May. Once the rainy season starts in earnest our vehicles are not able to travel through the muddy "roads" of South Sudan. Until the rains come, however, our drilling, rehab and hygiene teams will continue to reach remote, rural villages in need of clean water and hygiene education.
Our drilling team, led by "A.J" Agok, our Assistant Country Director, has drilled 19 new wells this season, bringing our total to over 300 wells drilled since 2005. Each new well brings greater health and stability to a village. Access to clean water means that girls and women no longer have to walk miles to gather water that is often dirty and contaminated. A well in a village can be the first step toward stability and development. Markets, schools and clinics can grow up in a village that has access to water.
Our pilot well rehabilitation team, led by WFSS Country Director Ater Thiep, has had a very successful year, going over their original goal of rehabilitating 20 of our oldest wells, and has repaired 26 wells as of April 24, 2017. The creation of the rehab team grew out of our 2015 well evaluation trip in which we were able to visit 80 of our wells. While we found that all wells were operational and producing fresh water, we also found that the cement platforms on some of the oldest wells were worn and eroded. This prompted a look at our procedures, and led to an improvement on many aspects. Our rehab team reports that villagers are very pleased with the results.
Both the drilling team and rehab team are using a new design this year, which includes better cement mixing for the cement platforms and animal drinking troughs. Our US Operations Team designed a long narrow drinking trough, leading away from the well head, for animals to drink. This allows villagers to get water for their animals without adding more wear and tear on the cement, and also keeps the animals away from the well head. Other NGOs in South Sudan have been interested in our new design and have given us positive feedback on its efficiency.
In addition to drilling and rehab, we now have two hygiene education teams, one each traveling with the drilling and rehab teams, helping to improve hygiene practices in every village we visit.
WFSS strives to involve community members, and give local ownership in everything we do. Wells are installed after consulting with county officials, and village elders determine final placement of the wells. Hygiene education addresses the specific needs of a village, training four men and four women in each village. These villagers can then train others, helping to share education which improve health, hygiene, and the impact of clean water.
The 2017 season will be coming to a close soon. Once this season ends we will debrief with our team and begin plans for the next season.
South Sudan faces many challenges, but our teams are safe and able to do their work. We are in continual contact with them and are always assessing the safety and security both in the country, and in the areas in which we work. Our team assures us that our work can continue.
Water for South Sudan thanks all of our supporters, across the US and around the world, who enable our work.